Sihanoukville Travel Blog› entry 22 of 62 › view all entries
Earlier this year, in March, I stayed at the Caffe Venezia for $4 a night. The Italian-run guesthouse offered motorbike rentals for a dollar per day. The bikes were old and battered Chinese copies of 125cc Hondas and often required road-side maintenance - primarily from parts rattling loose or tired engines screeching out for motor oil. Before becoming a 'Carry-on', I toted a muti-purpose 'Leatherman' which often came in handy with any of the bikes. It took about a week, and three bikes, to 'move up' to a fairly reliable one as short term travelers moved on toward Phnom Penh or to Thailand. Unfortunately on this passage the Caffe Venezia is no longer here (at least at its old location on Ekareach Street).
Since those cheap rental days, the 'moto mafia' has managed to change the rules.
Western traffic rules do not apply in Sihanoukville. The size of the vehicle and its speed determine right-of-way. Traffic flows and stumbles randomly from all directions in a roadway free-for-all; mostly motorbikes and pedestrians, especially around the old market. Cars are relatively few here compared to motorbikes.
The countless motorbikes not only transport people - sometimes five at a time, usually a family - but also cargo in all shapes and forms. Unbelievably large quantities of bundles or boxes are stacked high and wide. Some tow trailers which are either mounted to a hitch on the back of the seat, or gripped by a reluctant passenger. Other motos discover the aerodynamics of sheets of plywood. Precariously long and lethal loads flex over the drivers shoulder resembling a mechanized jousting match with bamboo, electrical conduit, or plumbing pipe lances.
Any accident involving foreigners would automatically be the fault of the foreigner. Unlike on Ko Chang, accidents are very few here. Common sense just might be safer than rules. Being short term, I'll rely on the inexpensive motorbike taxis to get to the beaches or Weather Station Hill.